Navigating the divorce process can be challenging. For parents of school-aged children, finding a way to break the news to these members of your family can make it even tougher. Teenagers can be especially vulnerable to major life changes and for this reason, may have a severe emotional reaction to the news of your upcoming divorce. Here are some proven strategies that could help you deal with teenagers and divorce more easily.
Present a United Front
Despite you and your former spouse possibly being at odds, talking to your teen together about your plans for divorce can sometimes provide added peace of mind during this challenging time. By setting aside your differences and working together to provide your child with the support he or she needs, you can reduce anxiety and stress that could lead to difficulties at school or emotional upsets at home.
Don’t Try to Hide the Truth
Even the most amicable divorce can send shock waves through your family. Letting your teen know as soon as you and your former partner have come to a decision can help you avoid accusations of secrecy from your teen. By letting your children know early in the process, you can also avoid confusion that may arise from changes in your lifestyle and living arrangements. Giving your teens general information about the process can sometimes provide them with greater confidence and peace of mind.
Don’t Say Too Much
When dealing with teenagers and divorce, it is a good idea to leave out some of the more personal details of your relationship when talking about the planned separation. In most cases, your child will not need to know the specific reasons for your divorce; this is especially true if sex or infidelity are involved in your decision. Making a sincere effort to stay positive when speaking about your ex-spouse can reduce the negative impact of divorce in many cases and may create open lines of communication between you and your teen aged child.
Maintain Your Regular Routines
While you may experience some disruption to your regular schedule because of your pending divorce, making sure your teen gets to school on time and continues with his or her normal routine can reduce the negative effects of this difficult time. Younger teens may attempt to act out or test existing limits. Staying firm but fair can be an effective way to establish that, while your marriage may be ending, your role as a parent remains unchanged. By establishing and maintaining limits, you can usually reduce the risk of major meltdowns.
Teenagers can be very vulnerable to depression and other emotional upsets. Keeping a close eye on their moods and activities can allow you to protect your teens from their reactions to your divorce plans. If your teen does become depressed, seeking professional counseling can help by providing them with a valuable outlet for expressing their hurt feelings and disappointment.
The odds are good that both you and your teenagers will navigate your divorce safely. By taking a little extra care in telling your teens about your divorce and by keeping a careful eye on their reactions, you can set the stage for a less stressful process for everyone involved.